Activating the Contextual Learner
Biographical Information: Everard Barrett
Everard Barrett was an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury since 1971 and was the president of Professor B Enterprises, Inc. From 1962 to 1971, he taught junior and senior high school mathematics in Brooklyn, New York.
He authored the Professor B methodology for mathematics education and conducted numerous interventions in elementary school mathematics education throughout the U.S. since 1973. Results, as substantiated by many statistical analyses, have been consistently strong. Over and over again, he moved his projects through the cycle of implementation, teachers' feedback, statistical evaluation and revisions.
In June 1976, after three years of experimental work in the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, Roosevelt, New York, he broke new educational ground by enabling fifth and sixth grade classes to out-perform (by a huge margin) their ninth grade counterparts on an examination traditionally reserved for the brightest ninth graders (The New York State Ninth Year Algebra Regents Examination) throughout the state. This was subsequently repeated (on two occasions) in P.S. 44, an elementary school within central Bedford Stuyvesants Brooklyn, New York. Both Roosevelt and Bedford Stuyvesant are very disadvantaged, low socioeconomic areas of New York.
After four years of implementing his methods in the Wicomico County Public School System, Maryland (starting in 1992), virtually every class in every grade uses a textbook at least one year ahead of itself.
Everard was commissioned to a UNESCO mission in mathematics education at the request of foreign governments in 1980. Following the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand during March, 1990, he was invited to present his methodology at the first seminar held by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in its search for "fresh, theoretically grounded methodologies for addressing fundamental educational requirements" (such as those identified at Jomtien) The one and one-half day session, on "Innovative Approaches to Meeting Basic Learning Needs" was convened at UNDP Headquarters, New York, in January, 1991. Everard was one of four presenters. Participants were educational specialists and program staff from international agencies such as UNDP. UNESCO, the World Bank, UNICEF, bilateral agencies and institutes. The Director of UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) attended throughout the duration of the seminar.
The directors of IIEP and UNDP were sufficiently influenced by his presentation to refer him to the Chief of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, for the purpose of initiating a UNDP-sponsored project in Jamaica, W.I.
The pilot phase of the project was completed during Summer, 1992. After receiving training in Everard's methodology, sixteen mathematics lecturers from local Teachers' Colleges enabled 94% of 265 practicing primary teachers to pass a qualifying examination in mathematics which the vast majority of them had failed repeatedly. The teachers received instruction from the lecturers for five days per week through five weeks. The highest passing rate ever achieved previously (since 1981), by a similar population of primary teachers under the same circumstances, was only 20%. In fact, the highest passing rate ever achieved previously by a population of mixed ability was 60%. By means of similar projects during the Summers of 1993 and 1994, the remaining population of practicing teachers unqualified to teach was reduced to an insignificantly small number. A national problem has been solved.